01 July 2019

Chess Camp

I have my annual chess camp for youth next week. As in years past, the students each receive a camp workbook (see "The Camp Workbook"). When I started creating these workbooks, I would print them on school photocopiers at no cost to me, and then bind them at Staples or FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) with cardstock covers (costing me about $4.50 each). Publishing them via Amazon, my printing costs are less than binding was in the past, and the students get a professionally bound book.

Two years ago, I created Five Days to Better Chess: Essential Tools for my camp. It is a good quality book that stands own its own as a resource for teachers and developing chess players up to B Class (under 1800). This year, I have finally added a long-planned glossary of tactics to a collection of 150 exercises that I have used since 2006. These exercises with glossary was published last week as Checkmates and Tactics. This book will be this year's workbook, supplemented with a some additional materials.

Every chess camp consists of endgame study the first day or two and some sort of endgame tournament, depending on the strength of the players enrolled. One of my top fifth graders is in the camp, as are several students whom I do not yet know. It is likely that some will be just starting to learn chess.

There is always a camp tournament consisting of one game per day for the five days. The day's camp routine consists of short lectures on positions, concepts, and short games. These lectures are broken up by cooperative and competitive problem solving exercises. The workbook fills idle time as some finish their tournament games earlier than others. Some time is set aside for workbook focus. Any errors that I discover in the book before camp begins (correctable for those buying the book later) become contests for the students: find the misspelled word.

Camp consists of five days, three hours per day. As the week goes on, the presentations are tailored to the needs of the students and we discuss middle games and openings.

Everything the students do, including behaving well, earns camp points. At the end of the week, prizes are awarded based on these points.

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